Waste and Chemical Management
We manage many types of waste that result from the process of generating electricity, operating office buildings, and repairing and replacing equipment. We continue to make progress to reduce waste and divert waste from landfills through beneficial reuse or recycling.
The amount of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing equipment used across the company continues to decline. PCBs, which are known to have adverse health effects, have not been used in new electrical equipment for more than 30 years but are present in some of our older transformers and other pieces of electric equipment. We removed and recycled approximately 45,000 pieces of electrical equipment in 2014; less than 0.4 percent of these items were found to contain PCBs greater than 500 parts per million (ppm).
The EPA is developing a proposed draft rule that would potentially require the phase out of certain PCB-containing equipment (potentially including equipment containing 50 ppm PCB or greater). AEP operates hundreds of thousands of pieces of electrical equipment that could be affected by the draft rule. Current regulations require that if you do not know the PCB content of certain types of equipment, you must assume that they contain 50 ppm of PCBs or greater. Due to the types, locations and quantities of the potentially affected equipment throughout the AEP system, the expense of identifying, sampling and potentially replacing all of this equipment, if required, would be quite costly.
We had approximately 1,400 transmission and distribution equipment oil spills in 2014, down from approximately 1,800 in 2013. Two of the spills contained greater than 500 ppm PCBs in 2014 compared with 10 spills in 2013. Most spills are related to storms and vehicle accidents that damage the equipment and cause a spill.
During 2014, the waste streams we recycled included approximately 1.4 million gallons of oil, 1.4 million pounds of paper and mixed office waste, 34 million pounds of scrap metal, 180,000 light bulbs, 216,000 pounds of batteries and more than 284,000 pounds of electronic equipment, such as computers and phones, preventing disposal in landfills. These numbers are not all inclusive but are considered good estimates of waste management across AEP and indicate progress in reducing waste.